Internal backlinks are often treated as a free resource and so are shared indiscriminately across the site without giving any importance to its distribution. This way you could damages the structure of your site.
Factors affected by website structure and internal links
Thus, it is important to know about sharing the internal links and website structure as internal links affect the following areas.
- Spread of link equity: Spread of Link juice or Link equity from external backlinks to other pages is done by internal links. Whenever you make quality content, promote it with the intent of having external backlinks in mind. After much effort, you get external backlinks and because of the poor backlink structure, the link equity from the external backlink doesn’t reach the internal pages and thereby limiting the benefits of building external links.
- Structure of the website: Page rank or page authority is of individual pages. If one or few pages are internally linked and the rest are not, it may hamper the site structure as the Page rank or Page authority will only reach the pages which are linked and the unlinked page will not get the Page rank.
- Helps search engines to crawl: Proper Link structure helps Search engine crawlers reach and crawl pages deep inside the website.
- Brings in traffic to unrelated topics or categories: The traffic brought by a good quality backlink can be wasted if the relevancy of the site or topic is not maintained. This way you can waste the core purpose of backlinking(to bring traffic to the website)
So the purpose of having a balanced internal website structure and the distribution of the internal links are directly related to the above-stated things.
Types of Website structure
So, let’s have a look at the type of website structure and when they are applicable. Before explaining the Website structure it is important to point out that the maximum link equity (from the external websites) is received by the Homepage. Thus, at any given point the maximum link equity(or link juice or page ranking) flows from the Homepage to the other page.
Horizontal Website Structure
This is used by small websites, or to the sites belonging to Small businesses. where there are not many products or services are in offer. Here in this structure every page is connected to the Home page thereby sharing the Homepage link equity throughout the site.
Silo Website Structure
Silo or Vertical website structure is used by bloggers, bigger firms, or businesses with more depth in their offering. As you can notice the Silo structure distributes the topics categorically, thereby distributing the link equity from the Home page to other pages in a categoric manner.
As we covered the website structure part, now we can move to the internal linking part.
Types of Internal backlinks and their structure
Categorically the internal backlinks can be divide in two ways 1)Main Content backlinks 2) Secondary content Backlinks
Backlinks from Main content are always stronger than the backlinks from secondary content.
What are the main Secondary content backlinks?
The links coming from the Menu, footer, or sidebar of the website are the Secondary content backlinks. These backlinks have a lower value compared to the Main content backlinks, in the backlink hierarchy. Meaning, more link equity can be expected from the backlinks coming from Main Content Backlinks as compared to Secondary Content backlinks.
What are the Main Content backlinks?
The links coming from the body of the content page of the website. This includes the links coming from the above the fold part, below the fold part, and the links at the bottom of the content body (present in the form of source, reference, list etc).
Even though the Main Content backlinks have the higher authority compared to Secondary content links, the main content backlinks to has a hierarchy. The Backlinks coming from above the fold part of the body content have the highest link equity or link juice, followed by the backlinks coming from below the fold and bottom part of the page.
How to share the Internal links? What is the hierarchy of internal links?
Before knowing how to share internal links let’s get it clear with what are Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 and what they represent in the Silo/Vertical structure. Refer to the diagram below.
Level 1 page: The top page or the Level 1 page will be the Homepage or any Pillar page you want to rank for a particular keyword. This page may be the only page for the Topic or theme or seed keyword which is being targeted.
Level 2 page: Level 2 could be your category pages of the topic of level 1, they could be hub pages, etc.
Level 3 pages: These are the pages covering the topic or content of Level 2. For adequate link equity or link juice distribution Level 3 pages shouldn’t exceed more than 5 pages. If a webmaster is not able to cover its topic within 5 pages then the Level 2 pages should be categorized further.
Internal backlink hierarchy
Links Between Level 1 and Level 2
Level 1 will send link equity or link juice in the form of backlinks to level 2 pages. The link equity or link juice from Level 1 to Level 2 would be the most hence. Level 1 will pass on the best link equity to level 2.
But, when the Level 2 page will link the Level1 page, the link equity passed by Level 2 to Level 1 page will be the lowest.
Links between Level 2 pages
Every Level 2 page will share the link with another level 2 page. Since their hierarchies are the same the link equity received from level 2 to other levels 2 pages will be moderate.
Links between Level 2 and Level 3 pages
Similar to link equity between Levels 1 & 2. Link equity passed by Level 2 page to Level 3 page will be the highest quality. but the link equity passed by Level 3 to Level 2 will be the lowest quality.
Links between Level 3 pages
Every Level 3 page will share the link with another level 3 page within the same category only. Since their hierarchies are the same the link equity received from level 3 to other levels 3 pages will be moderate.
The rule is link equity is highest when linked from the Upper level to any Lower level. While the link equity is lowest, when linked from Lower level to Upper level. Link equity remains moderate when linked within the pages of the same Level.
The advantages of this Vertical or SILO structure is as follows
- Backlink Authority gained for one topic is not dissolved or polluted.
- You receive topic-wise backlink authority. Thus improving the authority of your website on that topic. So in-short contributes to improving the EAT score.
- Website topics are not mixed and remain classified.